VITO’S SHOCK FIRST-PLACE LIONS, ADVANCE TO TELUS CUP FINAL
QUISPAMSIS, N.B. – Anderson MacDonald and Alex Lafreniere scored in the last six minutes, and the Saint John Vito’s upset the unbeaten Lions du Lac St-Louis 2-1 in Saturday’s second semifinal at the 2016 TELUS Cup.
The Vito’s will face the North York Rangers in the gold medal game on Sunday night (5 p.m. AT on TSN).
MacDonald tied the game and got the qplex rocking with 5:40 to go, stopping a shot from Ben Reid before spinning at the hashmarks and firing a wrist shot upstairs on Lac St-Louis goaltender Sandro Sylvester.
Lafreniere – who hadn’t played since Tuesday – netted the game-winner on a Saint John power play just 1:51 after the MacDonald marker, picking up a rebound in the slot and beating Sylvester.
Saint John is the first host team since the Red Deer Rebels in 2007 to reach the final, and the first Atlantic team to do so since the Sidney Crosby-led Dartmouth Subways in 2002. It’s only the second time in 43 years of Canada’s National Midget Championship that a team from the Atlantic Region will play for gold.
No host team has won the national title since the 1991 Calgary Northstars, and the Vito’s – who are already guaranteed to be the first New Brunswick team to win a medal – are just the fifth host to reach the gold medal game since then.
Adam Capannelli had the lone goal for Lac St-Louis, which became the first team to lose in the semifinals after finishing 5-0 in the preliminary round since the 1991 edition of the Lions.
Just like in their five round-robin games, Lac St-Louis was first on the board; with just over three minutes off the clock, Sébastien Paquette kept the puck in at the offensive blue-line and threw it towards the net, where Capannelli redirected it through the legs of Saint John goaltender Jake Stewart.
But Stewart closed the door after that, keeping the high-powered Lions at bay with a 42-save performance.
The Vito’s managed only 13 shots in the first two periods – Lac St-Louis held a 33-13 advantage after 40 minutes – but came out firing in the third, directing 17 shots at Silvestre in what was arguably their best period of the entire season.
The Lions will play Sunday for the bronze medal, taking on the Lloydminster Bobcats (noon AT), looking to win an eight medal in as many appearances at the national championship.